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Thread: Does T-Mobile carrier lock an unlocked phone on postpaid?

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    Does T-Mobile carrier lock an unlocked phone on postpaid?

    I have a factory unlocked LG, US version. that T-Mobile IMEI check shows is good to go.

    If I put this phone on a T-Mobile postpaid plan, will T-Mobile carrier lock it, thus stopping me from using it on AT&t or VZW?

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    No. They, like other providers, lock people into contracts (phone payment plans), when buying a phone from them but this shouldn’t occur with a BYOP device.
    Pixel 2, Moto X4 & Moto G6 on Google Fi
    iPhone 6S on Verizon Prepaid

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    No, there is not carrier will lock and already unlocked phone in any way that would prevent it from being used on another network.

    You could technically have the same phone registered on an active plan on each of the 4 carriers (assuming it is compatible with all 4), but of course you can only use one carrier at a time (two if you have a dual-SIM device). Simply put, the carriers do not know about each other's accounts...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenmule View Post
    I have a factory unlocked LG, US version. that T-Mobile IMEI check shows is good to go.

    If I put this phone on a T-Mobile postpaid plan, will T-Mobile carrier lock it, thus stopping me from using it on AT&t or VZW?
    No, they would have no reason to lock it.

    They only lock devices that they sell (usually at a discount or on payment plans) to prevent them from immediately being used on other carriers.

    But a factory unlocked device will remain unlocked.

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    Sometimes people buy an "unlocked" iPhone someplace like Best Buy and insert a T-Mobile SIM to test the phone and later find the phone locked to T-Mobile. This is because they ran afoul of Apple's Reseller Flex Program, which allows 3rd parties to sell one model of Apple phone to customers of any carrier on payment plans. The phone locks itself to the first SIM it sees. The customer then has a hard time getting T-Mobile to unlock the phone, since they are not a T-Mobile customer, etc., etc. yada, yada, yada. AFAIK only iPhones bought from 3rd parties do this. Other brands don't.
    Donald Newcomb

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    @Peterfield, high technology, jet1000, DRNewcomb, thank you all.

    Got the answer I hoped for from the knowledge base.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Sometimes people buy an "unlocked" iPhone someplace like Best Buy and insert a T-Mobile SIM to test the phone and later find the phone locked to T-Mobile. This is because they ran afoul of Apple's Reseller Flex Program, which allows 3rd parties to sell one model of Apple phone to customers of any carrier on payment plans. The phone locks itself to the first SIM it sees. The customer then has a hard time getting T-Mobile to unlock the phone, since they are not a T-Mobile customer, etc., etc. yada, yada, yada. AFAIK only iPhones bought from 3rd parties do this. Other brands don't.
    What happens if I buy an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple? Would it automatically SIM lock it to my carrier?

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    Does T-Mobile carrier lock an unlocked phone on postpaid?

    Quote Originally Posted by dandn1321 View Post
    What happens if I buy an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple? Would it automatically SIM lock it to my carrier?

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    No. It will remain unlocked.

    My general rule. I buy my iOS devices unlocked from Apple. I buy my Android devices unlocked from Google.
    Last edited by mch; 01-20-2019 at 02:52 PM.
    "I didn't get fat by accident. This was a personal choice. " - Kevin Gillespie

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Sometimes people buy an "unlocked" iPhone someplace like Best Buy and insert a T-Mobile SIM to test the phone and later find the phone locked to T-Mobile. This is because they ran afoul of Apple's Reseller Flex Program, which allows 3rd parties to sell one model of Apple phone to customers of any carrier on payment plans.
    Thanks for mentioning this issue. I've never heard of it before. But I found this thread on Apple's support site which covers more specifics so I could educate myself on this.

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7960267

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    Sometimes people buy an "unlocked" iPhone someplace like Best Buy and insert a T-Mobile SIM to test the phone and later find the phone locked to T-Mobile. This is because they ran afoul of Apple's Reseller Flex Program, which allows 3rd parties to sell one model of Apple phone to customers of any carrier on payment plans. The phone locks itself to the first SIM it sees. The customer then has a hard time getting T-Mobile to unlock the phone, since they are not a T-Mobile customer, etc., etc. yada, yada, yada. AFAIK only iPhones bought from 3rd parties do this. Other brands don't.
    To clarify:

    Apple is the sole reseller of unlocked iPhones. If you buy an iPhone from any other retailer, it is locked. Either it came out of the box locked--for example, because T-Mobile bought hundreds of thousands of them that way to put in their stores--or it got locked to the first carrier it saw when you put the SIM card in.

    You can pay full price for an iPhone from Best Buy, but it is technically a locked phone. But logistically, Best Buy does not and cannot buy phones that are already carrier locked; that's an inventory nightmare for them. They want ANY customer to come in and buy a phone. Enter Apple's reseller flex policy. Apple created the mechanism inside its iPhones to accommodate these various needs, all the while providing for maximum iPhone market penetration. You buy a phone from Best Buy, you put a SIM card in it, and voila--it's locked to that carrier. You are now at the carrier's mercy to unlock the phone. Apple is happy, Best Buy is happy, the carrier is happy. And in most cases, the customer doesn't know or care.

    No one else to my knowledge does this. This is unique to Apple.

    I buy unlocked Android phones all the time. I bought an unlocked Sony Experia from Best Buy (they seem to be the only B&M reseller) and put a Cricket SIM card into it; it's not locked to Cricket. It's an unlocked phone still.

    Oh--and about that bolded part I quoted above. The reseller flex policy, to my knowledge, is used ANYTIME anyone other than Apple sells a new iPhone. It has nothing to do with contracts or payment plans. Walk into Best Buy, plop down $899 for an iPhone, walk out, put your SIM card into it, BAM. Locked to your carrier--even without a payment plan.

    As I said, then you're at your carrier's mercy. T-Mo requires 40 days use on the postpaid network before they'll unlock it, for example. And they make it VERY easy, with an unlock app. Once unlocked, that iPhone is just as if you bought it from the Apple store--because Apple doesn't change the hardware or firmware just for a carrier. They make ONE example of a model, and it has every bit of hardware and firmware and cellular frequencies that are current for all carriers.

    My Galaxy S9+ that I bought as a branded T-Mobile phone, now that's a different beast. I fully expect it not to work so well on another carrier. For example, AT&T phones like that generally suck when connected to T-Mobile's network.

    But T-Mobile does a superb job of working with unlocked Android phones. Plug in the T-Mo SIM, and you get the T-Mobile account apps and visual voicemail functionality. (Cricket does the same thing, although their VVM app right now is horribly broken.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by adam1991 View Post

    ...
    Oh--and about that bolded part I quoted above. The reseller flex policy, to my knowledge, is used ANYTIME anyone other than Apple sells a new iPhone. It has nothing to do with contracts or payment plans. Walk into Best Buy, plop down $899 for an iPhone, walk out, put your SIM card into it, BAM. Locked to your carrier--even without a payment plan.
    The Reseller Flex Policy OBLY applies to certain retailers -- Best Buy and Target are the ones that I am aware of. Those phones DO NOT come with a SIM card in the box, and are coded in Apple's systems as "Reseller Flex" by their serial numbers. As you describe above, it's easier for retailers to carry less inventory (i.e., why carry multiple models of the same device, where the only difference is the SIM card in the box).

    The iPhones sold by other providers are already locked to that provider -- they are shipped from Apple that way. For example, I purchased 4 T-Mobile iPhones at Costco in the past 3 months, all at full price. In every case, just for giggles, I first booted the phone with a post-paid Verizon SIM -- since Verizon's default policy should be unlocked (ignoring their new Verizon policy for the moment). In each case, I got the SIM NOT SUPPORTED message, as the phone was already locked to T-Mobile. I also bought an iPhone 6S at AT&T for full price, unactivated. Same thing -- tried another SIM and it wouldn't activate -- but in that case AT&T unlocked in 5 minutes via online submission since it wasn't "subsidized".

    Despite the 40 day policy, T-Mobile will unlock existing customer's phones earlier if paid off (or paid in full). 3 of the 4 phones I purchased are already unlocked, and the 4th was requested a day or so ago, so I am waiting for the email confirmation of the unlock on that one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dandn1321 View Post
    What happens if I buy an unlocked iPhone directly from Apple? Would it automatically SIM lock it to my carrier.
    If you buy an unlocked phone directly from Apple, it will remain unlocked. Note that Apple does not normally sell recently released phones as unlocked. Those phones are reserved for the carriers. Only after some months of sales will they start selling a phone factory unlocked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DRNewcomb View Post
    If you buy an unlocked phone directly from Apple, it will remain unlocked. Note that Apple does not normally sell recently released phones as unlocked. Those phones are reserved for the carriers. Only after some months of sales will they start selling a phone factory unlocked.
    Do they sell the iPhone 7 plus unlocked?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dandn1321 View Post
    Do they sell the iPhone 7 plus unlocked?
    Apple yes.. they always sell unlocked.. right now, you can buy iphone 7 7plus 8 8plus xr xs xsmax (the iphone x has been discontinued)

    T-mobile.. no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr0w View Post
    Apple yes.. they always sell unlocked.. right now, you can buy iphone 7 7plus 8 8plus xr xs xsmax (the iphone x has been discontinued)

    T-mobile.. no.
    How much does the 7 plus go for?

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